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Category: TripWriteUp

Project Tenderfoot 2024 Recap & Photos 

We had a successful project Tenderfoot weekend with our goals to help the new scouts learn to be self sufficient when on a troop campout and to allow the older scouts an opportunity to further develop their teaching and leadership skills. This was Troop 640’s first campout with its new sister all girl troop. 

Friday night went off great with the troop setting up at the group campsite at Bear Creek Lake Park, The scouts spent the evening hours playing shadow (a modified version of tag in the dark).   

Saturday was busy, we marked off multiple Tenderfoot requirements (first aid, axe/saw/knife safety, basic knots, entry cooking skills , tent/camp set up and safety skills).  For a service project, we picked up debris in a less visited part of the park.  The afternoon was spent on a 5 mile hike where the new scouts learned basic orienteering skills.   Dinner went well with the scouts doing a peach cobbler.  Not to be outdone, the adults experimented with 2 different methods to cook brownies and managed to burn both batches. Oh, the high-risk high-reward joys of dutch oven cooking.  The scouts again spent the evening hours playing shadow.

Sunday morning the troop was able to use the archery range (much appreciation to Mr. Strous, Mr. Strauss and Mr. Mackey for running the archery range). 

I wouldn’t change a thing about the campout as everyone had numerous learning experiences. 

Boy Troop 

Eli, Nick, Liam, Luke,  Alexander, Nash, Davis, Colin, Caleb And Connor 

Girls Troop 

Corri, Clark and Zoe 


Tom, Keel, Cynde, Kathleen, Amanda and Brett

And photos have been uploaded to the website at the normal location:

2024 Klondike Derby Write Up

The top ten things I learned on my final Klondike Derby as the Scoutmaster of Troop 640: <drumroll>

It takes more than two days to properly cook a raspberry pie.

An “Everything bagel” does not taste like octopus.

If you train really hard, you can improve your fire-starting skills by a factor of 38 in a year’s time. Or, y’know…if you’re just prepared.

BSA needs a tent rolling merit badge that teaches kids how to put a tent back into the bag it came in.

Late fees are non-negotiable.

When some tells you to meet them at the First Aid tent, be ready for anything.

Coke is better than Pepsi – sorry, it’s science.

People from Florida may not be genetically prepared to drive in Colorado snow.

Don’t let Scouts go camping when they’re  sick.

And the number one thing I learned…
These boys always find a way to have fun!!

Thanks for filling my cup with laughter and perseverance.

2024 Ice Climbing Recap & Photos

This past weekend we branched out and attempted something the troop hasn’t done before – Ice Climbing at Camp Alexander! A great time was had by everyone who attended thanks to the amazing weather, challenging but fun Ice Climbing, relaxing ice fishing, physical ice hockey (in boots), and cooking! We departed the church around 6pm and arrived at Camp A (via the windy, “mountain” route) approximately 2 hours later with a fully loaded, extra grande Big Blue Trailer and 3 vehicles. All noises in the cars abruptly stopped when we rounded the bend at Camp A and the beautifully illuminated ice wall came into view – followed by in sync “wow’s” from the passengers. It was quite a sight to behold! We checked in and proceeded to unload our trailer to our spaces at Bunkhouse #5, #6, and #7. We set up patrol boxes so we were prepared for the next mornings meals and started a fire whilst enjoying our cracker barrel.

We retired around 10pm and set the alarms for 6:30am – giving us time to cook before our scheduled ice climbing at 8:00am. We enjoyed our meals and then started right into gearing up for our adventure. It was very advantageous to be literally next door to the gear bunkhouse so we could finish eating and start dressing at the same time. We saved the dish cleanup for after our climb. After getting all geared up and taught the ropes (literally and figuratively), we began our grande adventure! Everyone took turns cycling through climbing, belaying, and backup belaying and we spent a solid 2 hours going up and down the 10 various routes. Many Scouts (and even 3 of the 4 adults) made it to the top of at least one route. It’s not for the faint of heart yet our Scouts performed admirable – enough so that the guides remarked that we were one of the best crews they had seen on the ice!

After we were forced down due to time limits, we proceeded to clean up camp, make a quick lunch, then headed out to the frozen lake where we started ice fishing and hockey playing. Much to our surprise, Eli reeled in the first fish of the day – a grande rainbow trout coming in at a plump 16 inches. While we debated a meal change for dinner, we opted to let the big guy go and continued our luck later when Mr. Borstad caught another one almost as big as the first. Later on, Mr. Naber nabbed our third catch of the day while Mr. Bielkiewicz tried his hand at cross-checking Scouts on the hockey “rink.”

As the sun started to descend, we wrapped up the fun on the lake and headed back to camp to cook our meals. It was a pasta themed dinner – Mac N’ Cheese, Fettucine Alfredo, and Bow-Tie Pasta with Sausage, Peppers, and Onions in Vodka Cream sauce rounded out the 3 meals made. Mr. Borstad made a phenomenal double-dutch oven serving of cherry, chocolate cake/brownie goodness that everyone was able to enjoy. We all settled around the fire with our grande bellies before retiring after a long, fun day at 10pm.

Sunday was brief as we got up at 6:30am again, had quick breakfast, and packed up the trailer. We did our part by cleaning up the Scout restroom before Roses and Thorns and then heading back to the church. We arrived around 11:15am, unloaded the gear, and departed for home.

Thanks to everyone for attending this amazing adventure – attendees were:

Luke H. (SPL)
Alexander R.
Zack B.
Nash W.
Aidan S.
Caleb N.
Andrew N.
Damon B.
Connor L.
Eli S.
Bjorn B.

Brett Borstad
Chris Naber
Jacob Bielkiewicz
Mike Bielkiewicz

And photos have been uploaded to the website at the normal location:

P.S. If anyone took home a purple, reusable bag that held some food in it (or anything else that isn’t yours), please bring it back to the meeting tomorrow to return it to it’s rightful owner. Thanks!

2023 Snow Sports Adventure

We had a wonderful time this past weekend on our annual Snow Sports Adventure to the Granby area. We departed the church at 5:58pm – two minutes ahead of schedule even though Mr. Bielkiewicz’s car needed a jump start. We headed to the tubing hill and spent over 2 hours zooming down the hill. This was well over the 1 hour we paid for, so a big thank you to the Fraser Tubing Hill – make sure to visit them if you are in the area (it’s the first hill, on your left, not the other one!).

We proceed to the Church of the Eternal Hills in Tabernash for our 2nd consecutive visit and it did not disappoint. We settled in and had cracker barrel before retiring for the night around midnight. We woke up at 7:30 and had breakfast burritos, pop tarts, and juice before packing up and heading the Granby Ranch ski area.

Even though there were only a few runs open, the weather was perfect and everyone had a great time, interrupted only by lunch in the lodge. Some Scouts skied the lone, long run between 25 and 31 times!!! We departed for home around 4:15pm and luckily had very little traffic, allowing us to pull into the church parking lot at 5:58pm. We had exactly 24 hours of fun! Thanks to the following for attending:

Caleb N. (co-SPL)
Zack B. (co-SPL)
Nash W.
Damon B.
Andrew N.
Cooper P.
Dalton M.
Ben T.
Liam H.
Jackson D.
Eli S.

And Mr. Naber and Mr. Bielkiewicz for attending, as well as Mr. Borstad for helping to set up logistics and Mr. Mackey for some free ski lessons ahead of time!

Photos will be added to the website soon!

2023 Winter Primer Recap

This weekend was Troop 640’s winter primer campout, which gives Scouts a chance to camp in the cold – some for perhaps the first time. It also gives everyone a chance to check out different techniques and new gear. 

After a 90 minute drive from the church, the latter part filled with a plethora of hairpin turns, switchbacks and curves, we arrived safely at Camp Patiya. There we encountered a shady campsite with a chilly breeze and snow on the ground; in other words, perfection.

It took a few trips to get all our gear from the parking area to the campsite but we were soon setting up tents and our al fresco kitchen. Once that was finished, the boys settled into the real task at hand: Gaga Ball. After an hour or so of conquest in the Gaga pit, our SPL Nick had scheduled Firem’n Chit training so that more of our Scouts could build and tend campfires. Every Scout was able to light our camp stove start a fire using the friction method, which was very impressive to watch. The rest of the evening was filled with cooking chores, dinner, a cracker barrel featuring banana boats, and the best campfire of 2023. I’m pretty sure it was visible from outer space but it was safely contained at all times. We sat around playing a variety of guessing/word games, much to the delight of some and the agony of others. The boys did an excellent job of keeping their Scoumaster laughing. Lights out was at 10pm, and snoring could be heard shortly after that.

We were out of our tents at exactly 6:53am the next morning (again, per Nick) for another small campfire and a breakfast consisting of pop tarts, and bagels with cream cheese – with varying methods of toasting. We struck camp and after another few rounds of Gaga Ball, it was time to head back to the church. Thanks to Mr. Martin for pulling the trailer and yet another fun winter primer, and to the following:

Nick: great job as SPL, thanks for giving us all a very specific schedule.

Alexander: serving as an newly-minted Eagle mentor, and comedian.

Luke: for ALL of your hard work throughout the weekend, very impressive.

Eli: for serving as our unstoppable and always optimistic Paul Bunyan 

Dalton: for your glorious Gaga Ball victories and apple-slicing talents


Jon C Strauss

Photos will be posted online at soon and if you need the password, email .

Sand Dunes Photos Posted

Scouts: Dalton M., Cooper P., Nash W., Caleb N., Alexander R., Davis M., Nik F., Ben T., Andrew N., Eli S.

Adults: Cynde, Allison, Keel, Chris, Corey

Sorry for the delay in posting this, but we do have photos available from the Sand Dunes Campout.

Photos are online and if you need the password, email .

Bent’s Old Fort Campout Review

Scouts: Eli, Bjorn, Lex, Luke, Andrew, Vince, Aidan, Jackson D, Alexander and Cooper 

Adults: Heather, Chris, Brett

We overnighted Friday at the Koshare Indian Museum where we slept under a giant wooden Kiva.  This location is where the famed Koshare Indian Dancers (a boy scout staffed group) perform, unfortunately they were not performing at the time of our trip.  The adults all used ear plugs and had a great night of sleep.  Reports from the scouts indicate some ghost stories being told followed by other sleepover shenanigans.

The next morning, we went to Bent’s Old Fort and explored the rebuilt trading fort.  The scouts were one and all captivated by the most foreign creature that they had never seen before, yes a cat, untold minutes were spent fawning over a cat.  The Fort staff astutely confirmed we were city slickers and warned us we would be slack jawed by the docile goats, peacocks and chickens in the back of the fort. 

We had a fabulous tour guide who helped relate the role the fort played as the only trading post along the Santa Fe trail between St Louis (a 50 day trek away) and Santa Fe.  The tour explained how the economics of trading worked and how it related to today’s economy. And oh gosh, wouldn’t you know, another cat showed up so there went another 10 minutes….  The scouts also learned about the different classes of citizens at the fort and how a slave ranked among others. 

You should be proud of your child, as they were complimented by the staff for being well mannered and attentive. 

We had lunch at the fort and I am happy to report that we covered all the food groups, yep meat, cheese, bread and chips (veggies and fruits are reportedly no longer foods according to the middle and high schoolers in the group).

We took a detour to go home and stopped by the site of the Sand Creek Massacre.  We thought this would give the scouts a tangible different perspective on the old west and see the impacts on the native Americans.  The troop had a good discussion on history, learning from our ignorance and seeing facts from a different perspective.  We also discussed the recent change of Mt. Evans name to Mt. Blue Sky and how it related to this massacre.  This site is sacred to the native tribes and the troop did a great job of being respectful.  Thankfully, there were no cats at this location or we might not have got home till midnight.

If we do this trip again in a few years, I would suggest we try to match it to when the tarantula migration happens in La Junta, try to see the dancers perform, and doing the hike to see the dinosaur tracks using the short cut trail (6 miles vs 11 miles round trip).  I likely wouldn’t suggest the massacre site as it added a lot of driving time.

Photos are online as usual at and if you need the password, email .

2023 Florida Sea Base Travel Log

(Please note this is not a traditional writeup as it is very detailed and likely more appealing to those who actually attended the trip. When I was a Scout, our Troop would always have a Scribe designated for each crew on any Summer Adventure trip who would write up a similar log of the adventure. I have come across these writeups recently and treasure the memories they have evoked, even though they weren’t anywhere as detailed as this. Hopefully our boys will do the same someday in the future when they read this writeup once again. Ironically, it was almost exactly 30 years ago that I attended Sea Base as a Scout, so this trip was extra special for me. Thank you for joining me on this adventure! -Mr. B)

Day 0 (Travel Day) – 6/3/23

We met up at Mr. Bielkiewicz’s house bright and early Saturday morning where we consolidated larger items into our 1 crew bag which was to be checked on our flight and ensured all appropriate paperwork and duffels were prepared for our adventure to Florida. Once everything was squared away, we packed as much as we could into the rooftop box and crammed the 6 Scouts and 2 Adults into our chariot bound for DIA.

We splurged for valet parking at Canopy Airport Parking thanks to a deal Mr. Bielkiewicz had and waited patiently for a large enough shuttle to accommodate our entire party. We made our way through the terminal after checking our one bag and on to security where we ran into another Troop 640 Scout (Dominic P.) and his family who happened to be in line just behind us! After clearing security, we made our way to the C Concourse where a few of us grabbed breakfast and snacks for our 4 hour flight to Miami. We boarded our flight on-time, but as we were in the C group for boarding, we ended up in the last 2 rows of the plane. At least we were all together. At this point, some of us shed our Class A’s for the flight and enjoyed the relatively uneventful flight across the country.

We arrived into Miami on time and made our way through the ancient terminal (where Caleb could barely stand up without hitting his head on the ceiling) and on to baggage claim. Once our crew bag arrived, we started the long walk to the train for the rental car center. Enterprise was anxiously awaiting our arrival and we picked out the nicest looking white 15-passenger van and loaded all the gear. It was a great, spacious ride and with the Boy Scout discount, surprisingly affordable. We made our way out of the airport and headed to Homestead for our AirBnb. About 30 minutes later, we pulled up to the white picket fence that surrounded our home for the next 2 nights and unpacked and settled in for the night. Mr. Bielkiewicz made a brief run to the grocery store to obtain breakfast fixings for tomorrow and the boys settled into playing cards and enjoying the hot tub in the backyard of our rental. Some strange thought entered Michael’s mind late in the night and he decided to make caramel. Many would agree that what he ended up making was definitely NOT caramel. 

Day 1 (Southern Florida Tourists) – 6/4/23

We awoke bright and early so that we could arrive at our scheduled activity for the day on-time – an Airboat Tour of the Everglades. We went through a local company called Tigertail Airboat Tours which was located just across the highway from the Everglades National Park on Tamiami Trail. This was a phenomenal experience as it’s run by a family who were natives to the land and used to live out in “hammocks” in the middle of the Everglades. We visited 2 different hammocks where we got to see grasshoppers the size of a small cat, dragonflies that landed on your hat (well, Caleb’s at least), and countless baby alligators in the wild. We also visited what can only be described as an old zoo/rehab center with turtles (grown and baby) and a couple of alligators that we actually got to hold. They rescue alligators that are abandoned, raise them by hand, then release them back to the wild when they’re ready. Everyone enjoyed the airboat tour and because of a small snafu with lunch, we had extra time afterwards, so we hopped on over to the national park entrance and checked out the visitor center. Some bought souvenirs and then we piled back into the van before heading to lunch at Steak n Shake. The boys then voted to make our way to another national park – Key Biscayne, which is located on the ocean side, South of Miami. 95% of this park is actually in the water, however there’s a nice boardwalk that  juts out into the ocean a bit where many people were fishing. We checked out the visitor center there as well before heading back towards the house in Homestead. We decided to check out the famed Robert Is Here Fruit Stand first and spent $10 each on milkshakes that probably aren’t worth $10. The “fruit stand” definitely sells some fruit, however it also contains a strange pen filled with (thanks to the recent rains) muddy turtles, goats (which like to stand on the turtles), chicken, and so on. There was a man playing live music and cages filled with squawking birds. It was an interesting experience to say the least. But honestly, a little overrated in my opinion. We did see Robert. So yes, he is in fact “here.”

We headed back to the house for some rest after much sightseeing and driving before deciding on dinner plans. We opted to head back towards Miami and try our luck at a Japanese Hibachi restaurant. Unfortunately, they didn’t take reservations and by the time we arrived, the wait was well over an hour, so we headed across the street to a mall and ate at BJs Brewhouse. While we were there, Isaac decided to attempt to start a bar fight because the Nuggets started playing the local Miami Heat and he, very vocally, expressed boos and cheers to antagonize any Heat fans in the house. The adults, making sure the kids stay safe, decided to pay the bill and leave before things escalated. We returned home and watched the end of the game there. We also prepared for our Sea Base adventure by watching some required videos on sailing and creating the anchor watch and cooking/cleaning schedules. We retired to bed, in preparation for another long day tomorrow.

Day 2 (Key West and Sea Base Check-in) – 6/5/23

We woke up early and departed our rental by 8am. Waking up early was not difficult thanks to a local rooster who started cock-a-doodle-dooing at 4am each morning. That was really the only downside to our rental. We packed up the van and headed out to Key West. The main attraction of course was the drive over many bridges (including the 7-mile bridge) that connect all the Florida Keys. It’s a long drive, but beautiful seeing the ocean and gulf on either side. It took even longer than we anticipated (even without much traffic) so we didn’t have a lot of time in Key West if we wanted to check in early as was recommended, so we didn’t even leave the van. We did drive around the streets of Key West, played Jimmy Buffet on the radio, and took photos of other families at the Southernmost Point in the Continental US (even though it isn’t the REAL Southernmost point). We turned around, and, much to Michael’s chagrin, did NOT find any decent pirate sword shops. We headed back up towards Islamorada, home of the Sea Base, stopping for Subway on Marathon Key. We arrived about 20 minutes later than planned to Sea Base and began the check-in process. Unfortunately, there was a bit of confusion by Sea Base and our first mate, Frank, as they all thought we were part of another Troop. This simply delayed our official check-in, so instead, we started collecting our gear (fins, snorkeling vests, mesh bags), toured the gift shop and bought our reef-safe sunscreen for the week, and did our snorkel test in the very murky waters at the Sea Base “beach.” We also took a formal photo, however we neglected to look at said photo after we returned – hopefully it gets uploaded to their website eventually.

Once check-in officially happened, we were escorted to our home for the next week, the Thirsty Lady. It was a 46-foot sailboat (the largest on base actually), captained by Captain Pat (Carney). Ironically, the prior day, at Robert Is Here, we ran into a sailing crew who had just returned from their adventure and they told us we MUST get Captain Pat. Of course we had no say in the matter, but it was a welcomed coincidence and a fortuitous one as we felt we had the best captain out there. Captain Pat has been sailing for over 40 years and has owned his boat for most of that time. He actually won 4 regattas with the boat up on Lake Michigan (he’s from Chicago originally but lives in Key West now). He rents out the boat via AirBnB during the non-summer months. After getting some initial info from the Captain on our adventure and loading our gear, we made our way back to base to attend the evening flag ceremony and then got dinner from the mess hall. It was nothing to write home about, and made us look forward to our own cooking on the boat even more.

After dinner, we made our way back to the boat where the Captain informed us that due to the full moon and “negative” tide, we could not make it out of the Sea Base harbor that night and would have to instead sleep on the boat while at the marina. The good news was that the A/C would be working since we could stay plugged in! We only missed a short ride out anyway where we would’ve anchored. So this also meant no anchor watch on day 1, which made everyone very happy. After ensuring we had everything we needed, we closed up the cabin (to keep it cool), played a little cards, then slept soundly in the cabin, with one exception. Michael decided to sleep topside and discovered the bugs were quite prevalent since we were near land. Once he equipped himself with proper bug protection, managed to sleep through the night. There were 3 bedrooms on the boat and 3 bathrooms. The captain had his own berth at the front, Jacob and Zack shared one bedroom, Kristina and her son, Isaac, shared the other while Aidan and Caleb slept on the benches around the table. Mr. Bielkiewicz slept on the floor where it was coolest.

Day 3 (Snorkeling) – 6/6/23

We awoke bright and early, had a little breakfast on the boat, and departed the marina around 7am. We made our way out to our first snorkeling site, Alligator Reef. Jacob towed the dive flag and we enjoyed our first Snorkel site where much of it was the crew figuring out exactly the best way to snorkel. The visibility was ok, but the sun wasn’t fully out which hampered it. We did see some fish, and also saw a crew scuba diving below us.

We then moved on and motored to Donut Reef, however there were no mooring balls available, so we skipped it and moved on to Hens and Chickens. The current was quite strong here and visibility not the greatest, however we saw more marine life, including 2 large Spotted Eagle Rays.

We then made our way to Tavernier Bight where we anchored for the night. The previous week, the motor for the anchor went out so it had to be let out and pulled back in manually. The Captain taught our boys how to do this successfully and it was quite the adventure to get the anchor down just right. Once we were sure the anchor was secure, Aidan decided to jump in for a short swim and decided to try to climb the side of the boat where he infamously injured his knee. A hobbled Aidan climbed back in the boat properly and we then cooked dinner – the suggested menu had pasta on it, however we couldn’t find any pasta sauce so we opted for Mac ‘N Cheese with hot dogs mixed in. What’s a Boy Scout trip without Mac ‘N Cheese at least one night? After dinner, some opted to fish and Kristina caught 4 fish and Caleb caught 3. None worth keeping, so we tossed them back and then bunkered down for the night, our first with anchor watch. Fortunately, anchor watch was uneventful tonight as we mostly started at the shore not too far away and the other boats anchored around us.

Day 4 (More Snorkeling and Crazy Night) – 6/7/23

We awoke bright and early and had a hot breakfast of Sea Base McMuffins (eggs and sausage on english muffins) before heading out to our first snorkel spot of the day, Pickles Reef where visibility was better than the previous day but the current was just as strong or stronger. We saw a pretty cool shipwreck before heading back on board and heading out to Davis Reef. Due to the strength of the current combined with the distance from our mooring ball to the sunken lighthouse, half of the crew decided to stay on board and prepare lunch while the other half (Caleb, Zack, Aidan, and Kristina) decided to jump back in. Fortunately for them, they saw more than just the lighthouse when they came across a Reef Shark and a Sea Turtle, however what they didn’t realize was exactly how far they had “wandered” from the boat. Unfortunately, Kristina didn’t make it back. However, Ursula, from the Little Mermaid, joined us in her place! At least that’s what we all thought when she showed up at the boat with more seaweed atop her head than hair. It seems that Ursula is not the best swimmer and had to be aided to our boat by our life buoy and a couple of additional rescue Scouts (Jacob and Isaac). When Aidan approached Kristina before we lost her to the deep and she stated “I don’t think I’m gonna make it, Aidan,” he replied “I don’t think I will either.” Fortunately for Aidan’s parents, he DID make it back, helping to ensure Ursula’s safety. Mr. Bielkiewicz manned the grill during the Davis Reef escapade and all were treated to cheeseburgers with flaky sandwich “buns” thanks to Sea Base forgetting some key food components when stocking our kitchen.

After resting a bit, we journeyed on to Rocky Top Reef for our 3rd snorkel spot of the day. Only Zack, Michael, Caleb, Aidan, Kristina, and Mr. Bielkiewicz jumped in and immediately saw a large Moray Eel – unfortunately, the GoPro froze and no footage of said eel was captured, so you’ll just have to believe us. The current was once again strong so we just hovered around the boat where we had some fun blowing bubble rings and then were lucky enough to see a Nurse Shark who swam circles under us for quite some time. We then got back on the ship and headed to our mooring spot for the evening at Indian Key.

Unfortunately, the only spot left at Indian Key was too shallow for the Thirsty Lady and we ran her aground. The Captain had everyone move to one side of the boat so he could rock us free. We abandoned the moor ball and instead set up anchor in front of the other boats moored nearby. Jacob and Caleb nailed this one, which was good considering what we were in for overnight. We grilled up chicken for chicken fajitas and settled in for another night of anchor watch.

The captain expected some potential rain around the 2am hour. Kristina and Mr. Bielkiewicz had anchor watch from 2am-4am and it was calm with only a couple of sprinkles. Until 3:55 am. The skies almost instantly opened up with massive raindrops falling. Michael, who had been sleeping topside, quickly moved down below and the adults took shelter under the bimini in the cockpit. Just as fast as the rain started, the winds started to increase. First 5 knots, then 10 knots, then 15 knots. At 23 knots, we decided to wake the Captain. Mr. Bielkiewicz asked Kristina to do the honors and as she approached his door, he opened it, sensing the weather above his cabin. We opted not to wake the next anchor watch crew, however Michael and Caleb were up anyway and decided to weather the storm with Mr. Bielkiewicz and the Captain. The winds continued to pick up, blowing the heavy rain horizontally, and topped out at 28 knots before our anemometer stopped working due to being too wet. The captain continually checked the anchor line and let more out because the higher the winds, the more anchor you need out to keep the boat stable. In the end, we had out well over 100 feet by the end of the storm. The ship held like a champ and some of the crew didn’t even wake up for the storm. By 5:30am, it was all over. The captain and Mr. Bielkiewicz got some rest for a short while before daybreak.

Day 5 (Pirate Takeover, Sailing, and a Busted Motor) – 6/8/23

The only real ill effect from the overnight storm was the fact that we were apparently boarded by a pirate who looked shockingly a lot like Michael. Mr. Bielkiewicz was bleary-eyed from the short sleep shift, but still managed to get a photo of the pillager. Fortunately, the pirate was relatively friendly and did not steal all of our goods, so we had bagels and cream cheese for breakfast.

Having made our way mostly North and East from Sea Base, we had a goal to make it to Marathon Key, South and West of Sea Base, today. This was mostly against the wind so it meant for a long day under way. We were able to put up the sails fully for the first time and the Captain taught the boys how to hoist the Jib and Mainsail and we really picked up some good speed, angling so much that the Captain had to distribute the weight properly to help maintain our pace. This was quite exciting as one rail of the boat was within inches of touching the water at our top speed of about 8 knots. Mr. Bielkiewicz decided a nap was in order and while he was asleep down below, the motor (used in combination with sailing at times to keep the speed up, especially when the wind was “too” direct) started to blow smoke and gave out. We were able to maintain a slow speed with just the sails, but the captain had to make some repairs while we were under way. He handed the helm to Ursula/Kristina, who decided that doing a few donuts was in order. Unfortunately, sailing a boat in circles does NOT allow you to make much progress towards our goal for the night, so Mr. Bielkiewicz was awakened from his slumber to steer the boat instead. When asked if anyone had any mechanical experience on board, everyone pointed to Isaac and his love for working on cars – so he was volun-told to help the Captain as he basically dismantled the motor to try to find out what was wrong. In the end, the hypothesis was that when we ran aground the previous day, we might have sucked up something that was blocking the intake – Captain reversed the flow and was able to clear the line and we were back in business. Mr. Bielkiewicz’s turn at the helm wasn’t much better than his predecessor as the boat suddenly lurched in a manner that only occurs when one hits something. It seems the shallows of the Keys found us once again – but fortunately we had enough momentum to power through this one without much delay. Needless to say, only the Captain helmed the ship from this point forward since clearly Troop 640 adults (and Disney witches) could not be trusted.

To save time on our journey, we made sandwiches for lunch while under way and enjoyed the beautiful weather and scenery that surrounded us. Caleb trolled for fish while we were under way and managed to hook a Barracuda. Captain Pat was afraid of anyone losing a finger to the vicious sea creature, so after carefully weighing it, Caleb released it back into the deep.

Eventually, we found ourselves at Marathon Key – one of the largest Keys in the Florida Keys, where we parked for the night in a marina. We were able to take showers, eat a healthy (both food and cost-wise) dinner at the local restaurant, and sit around and tell stories while the cabin was fully conditioned with cool cool air for us to sleep in that night. Of course our meal wasn’t without some drama as Caleb noticed another patron who happened to be positioned at the head of another table facing our group who had a striking resemblance to a young Jeffrey Dahmer. Why Caleb even knows what a young Jeffrey Dahmer looks like is probably something to explore later, but we all agreed that he wasn’t wrong. And it seemed he was staring at our group (or perhaps Caleb directly) most of the meal. Perhaps it was because he was facing our group…perhaps not?

To top it off, later that evening, Michael realized he had forgotten his bag with his epipen in it at the table. He took a buddy back to the restaurant and found said bag exactly where he left it, however there was another family with 2 young girls seated at the table. Instead of doing the logical thing and simply letting the family know his bag was between the 2 girls, he felt it more appropriate to slowly sneak under the table to retrieve his bag. Somewhere in the world, a family is writing up their vacation stories like this one, and they, too, have their own Jeffrey Dahmer-like creep in their story as well.

The boat was so nice and cool when we returned that we all crammed into it tonight. No anchor watch necessary, so we took our normal spots, but this time, Mr. Bielkiewicz fashioned a bed out of the dining table and well placed cushions, and Michael took the floor. We all slept quite well!

Day 6 (Snorkeling Resumed, a Pillow for the Fishes, and Shark Fishing) – 6/9/23

We took our time rising as we had a relatively short day ahead. We cooked up eggs and sausage again, this time for breakfast burritos. We pushed off and made our way to the fuel station where we replenished the fuel, drained the holding tanks, bought more ice, and a few snacks for us and the fish we planned to catch. We also happened to be next to a commercial swordfishing boat who generously donated 9 filets of swordfish for us to make later that night for dinner! One last bathroom break on land and we were on our way. We headed out to our first snorkel spot, a place called “48?” where the visibility wasn’t great due to the large swells. We did see some sort of marker or mast under water and some limited marine life before we decided this wasn’t the best spot so we got back on the boat and moved on. Michael wasn’t feeling 100% at this point and decided to stay on the boat for this one.

We then proceeded to Coffins Reef but just prior to saddling up to the mooring ball, suddenly Zack said “Hey! Isn’t that Michael’s pillow?” pointing into the ocean. Michael looked underneath his arm where his pillow was located just seconds before and then out to the sea where the pillow floated quickly away from the boat, taken by the current faster than any of us could swim. We held a brief memorial and then attached to the mooring ball to be greeted by the best snorkeling visibility of the trip and definitely the most fish of any site we’d done previously. Michael actually hopped in the water and just hung out on the life buoy line which helped his nausea and because so many fish were literally just under the surface, even he got to experience this amazing spot. It was a beautiful array of colorful fish that clearly wanted us to join them in their swaying back and forth of the current. It was a great site to end our snorkeling adventures.

We hopped out of the water and decided to make hot dogs while moored at Coffins Reef. The only issue was the swells were quite dramatic by this point and we decided using the grill off the back of the boat would be a recipe for disaster (envision massive hot dogs rolling into the ocean, one by one) so we chose to grill them up in a skillet below deck on the stove. Caleb attempted to start this process, but even he tapped out as being below deck under major rocking can cause the heartiest of sailors to feel the effects. So Mr. Bielkiewicz and Kristina took over and finished grilling the hot dogs, not losing even one! The crew wolfed them down quickly and then we got under way to our final spot for the trip before returning to Sea Base the next morning.

About 30 minutes into our motoring along (and at least 2 hours after we had arrived at Coffins Reef), Jacob blurted out “HEY! Isn’t that Michael’s pillow?!?!” Sure enough, just as fast as it had floated away from us, Michael’s pillow floated right by the boat! Again, too fast for anyone to react to retrieve it, we had to watch helplessly as it continued its journey across the ocean. We fully expected another boat to present it to us the next day, but alas, that was the last we’d see of the most resilient pillow at sea. Seriously, what are the odds?

We returned to the spot we had crossed from the gulf into the ocean 3 days prior and anchored once again, this time with the finesse of a seasoned crew, impressing even our own grizzled captain in the process. He trusted our boys’ work after proving themselves during the Perfect Storm of 2023 so we could quickly relax, make dinner, and set up shop for a night of “guaranteed successful fishing.” Sea Base provides steak for your final night so we went to fire up the grill and realized that we were completely missing the attachment that allows you to secure the mini propane tank to the grill – we assume it was knocked off in the refueling process back at Marathon Key, so we had to get creative since we also had to grill up our swordfish. The adults decided to let the boys take a break and cooked up some wonderful Surf ‘N Turf along with some instant mashed potatoes. The meal hit the spot and prepared us to sit back for an evening of relaxing and fishing. True to his word, the Captain’s guarantee was quickly fulfilled as many fish were caught that evening. Kristina caught a couple more (6 total for the trip), Aidan joined the fun and caught a “wiggly mon” plus a few others (4 total), Michael threw in a line and caught 2 pretty quickly, and Zack got in on the action and caught 1 as well. But Caleb was busy and managed to reel in 8 more today alone bringing his trip total to 13. The best was saved for last though when he managed to hook a Nurse Shark. Bucket List item checked! She was 15 pounds and approximately 4 feet long. The double hook (acquired in Marathon that morning) snagged the mouth and the left eye. Caleb was able to free both hooks before setting it free – so if you’re even in the Florida Keys and come across a one-eyed Nurse Shark, you’ll know who is responsible!

We had one more night of anchor watch, which was thankfully much more uneventful than a couple of nights prior, allowing everyone to get as much sleep as possible.

Day 7 (Return to Base and Return to Home) – 6/10/23

A short day on the water as our trek back to Sea Base was a very short one – we basically ate whatever food was remaining for breakfast (pop-tarts, cereal, bagels, etc). We made our way into the Sea Base harbor, parked the boat in our original spot, and started unloading and cleaning up. The boys literally swabbed the deck (once the water supply was fixed at the base) while we made sure all of our gear was accounted for. We all took showers, filled out appropriate paperwork, visited the gift shop one last time, and loaded up the van with our gear. We had originally planned to eat a free meal at Sea Base, however the Captain suggested a Cuban Restaurant across the street and the crew voted to do that instead. We were glad we did as it was inexpensive, yummy, and as an added benefit, there was a mother and baby manatee floating at the marina adjacent to the restaurant. Many had never seen a manatee before so it was a great way to close out the trip.

With full bellies, we piled into the van and made the drive back to the Miami Airport while almost everyone took a deserving nap. We returned the van, made our way through security after checking our crew bag, and grabbed a few snacks for the flight home. We boarded on-time and had an uneventful flight home. After waiting for all the luggage to come off the belt at DIA, Caleb finally realized that our crew bag was apparently classified as “oversized” and noticed it had come up in a different location. We then got in the absurdly long line for the parking shuttle where it took a few shuttles to finally accommodate us. We got back the car, had to fill up the tire (a known leak that Mr. Bielkiewicz was prepared for and had a pump handy), and headed back home.

It ended up being a very long day, involving Planes, Trains (at both airports), Automobiles, and Boats, but we all arrived safe and sound back home, poorer in the wallets, but richer in experiences. I know I will never forget this trip and I hope no one else who attended will either. All photos located here; slideshow coming to a Court of Honor near you!

April 2023 Shootzenfest (funny name and a fun time)

The troop had a good turn out of nine scouts (Damon B, Bjorn B, Jackson D, Andrew N, Caleb, N, Vince P, Alexander R, Evan S, and Nash W) and 3 adults (Brett B, Little Bob P and Scoutmaster Strauss) who attended this event April 28-30th 2023.

We got lucky and had great weather all weekend.  Friday night involved camp set up and gorging on cookies and hot chocolate at the dining hall.  Overnight we had some drama with a neighboring scout blowing his emergency whistle due to fear of local coyotes that were serenading us with some original hit songs. 

Saturday was all about shooting.  There were stations for shotguns, 22 caliber rifles, muzzle loading, axe throwing, archery and sports archery.  The scouts and adults were allowed to shoot as much as they wanted while the ranges were open.  Saturday evening entertainment consisted of a garlic bread eating contest (Congratulations Evan) and a campfire program in which our troop did NOT do the invisible bench skit. 

Sunday morning, the scouts broke camp early and were able to sneak in another hour on the range before departing for home.

The only casualty from the weekend was headlamp that fell down to the bottom of the latrine.  Thankfully the scouts had the foresight to just let that one stay were it landed.

The biggest highlight as an adult was having every scout, at different times during the day, enthusiastically describe to how they were improving at their firearm skill or how they tried out a new activity.

Thank you to the SPL, Caleb N, for keeping the Troop going in the right direction on this weekend’s adventure.

Photos have been added to the website at and if you need the password, email .

2023 Project Tenderfoot Recap and Photos

12:20pm Friday: Mr. Bielkiewicz and Mr. Ross start discussions, due to the suddenly heavy local snowfall, around options for tonight and the possibility of postponing the start of the trip to Saturday is a surprisingly strong option.

1:23pm Friday: They decide that meeting at the church at 4:00pm might be our best course of action and start a group thread with all the leaders/drivers to get their input. Except for Mr. Smith, who, as fate would have it, has a different cell phone number than Mr. Bielkiewicz has on file…

1:31pm Friday: Mutual agreement (except for Mr. Smith, who is unaware of our new plan altogether) is made to meet at the church with a “game-time” decision imminent.

3:40pm Friday: Caleb N. scares the living daylights out of Mr. Bielkiewicz, who has just obtain his obligatory Subway sandwich, by honking his mom’s horn as he crosses the parking lot of said Subway sandwich shop.

3:45pm Friday: As penance for the aforementioned scaring of said life, back at the church, Caleb helps Mr. Bielkiewicz load final Troop gear into the trailer and hook it up to his car.

4:00pm Friday: Our determined travelers start arriving at the church, ready for whatever Colorado weather Gods can throw at them.

4:20pm Friday: Mr. Bielkiewicz and Aidan, the trip SPL, take a last minute look at the weather at our destination and realize the snow has subsided and decide to forge on with concurrence from the rest of the trip attendees…

…and the rest, as they say, is history!

Just a small taste of the decision-making process that goes on for our adventures. Thankfully we did not have a repeat of the 2022 Not-Klondike in our drive up to Camp Patiya, exactly 7 miles West of Boulder. The roads were fine, even in the mountains, albeit steep enough to push the limits of Mr. Bielkiewicz’s Honda Pilot while pulling the fully loaded trailer up Flagstaff Road. It’s a beautiful drive…normally. This time we were fully socked in with fog and clouds and could barely see 30 feet beyond the car. We arrived safely to the parking lot of the camp where a nice layer of 2 or 3 inches of fresh snow covered the entire camp. It was actually quite beautiful – more so because it was no longer falling, just as our trusty weather apps had told us. We followed the sign directing us towards the campsites…only to find it led us on the scenic tour of the camp.

Looks like we go left, right? Wrong.

Once we established our location, we quickly began to setup camp before another wave of predicted snow might fall. Fortunately, everyone, including our new crossover Scouts, were very efficient during the process and we had camp setup in no time at all, including lugging the very heavy patrol boxes the “more than” 175 steps indicated by the aforementioned wayward sign to their resting spots for the weekend.

The fog had lifted as we arrived, and then, as if on cue, just as we finished setting up camp, it descended upon us and we felt what it was like to be in the clouds. It’s not as pleasant as you may think as we suddenly all became wet, but without any real rain. We teetered on the brink of freezing which made the wet a bit more dramatic. Thankfully, our intrepid Scouts finally figured out how to get the campfire burning so we had a semi-warm location to enjoy our evening Cracker Barrel. The snow started falling and we received a heavy dusting of very light, fluffy snow. Undeterred, the boys eventually retreated to their homes for the next 2 nights, the tents they erected and into gear that would keep them (mostly) warm as we rested for a big day Saturday.

The next morning, much to our surprise and NOT in the forecast, we awoke to clear skies with nary a cloud to be found. The sun was creeping up to the treetops and Mr. Bielkiewicz checked the temperature to find out we hit a low of 21 degrees. That’s 11 frost points! For the uninitiated, you earn 1 frost point for every degree you sleep outside below freezing. Even though our winter season is almost over, it’s pretty amazing to earn 11 frost points in April – especially for our new Scouts who hadn’t camped with us ever before! Take THAT Bear Creek Lake and Chatfield!

As the rest of the Troop slowly awoke from their slumber around 7:30am, breakfast was prepared. Both patrols chose ambitious meals – French Toast and Pancakes! And while some struggled to get them “just right,” no one finished the meal empty and the warm, filling breakfast was the perfect fuel for a day of requirement fulfilling and GaGa Ball playing!

Jacob B. arrived during breakfast to aid in the education of our younger Scouts and off they went to a covered pavilion where the tables were dry while the adults took care of the very important business of testing out their camp chairs (or wooden stumps as it may be) and ensure the security of our now-abandoned campsite. Thankfully no one else was in camp at this time, so the job was more on the “relaxing” side. The boys returned, fully enriched with new Tenderfoot knowledge and decided it was just too early for lunch…coincidentally, the once snow-filled GaGa Ball pit was suddenly dry and a raucous game ensued.

It was about this time that another Troop and a Pack started arriving – apparently they ditched their plans to come Friday and delayed to Saturday instead. Wusses. Our boys had a great time expending some energy before returning to the secure (thank you, Adults, for all your hard work!) camp to fire up the grills yet again and cook up some grilled cheese. Ironically, all three patrols (the two Scouts and our Adult patrol) all chose grilled cheese as the entrée of choice for lunch. While it was a great, warm meal for everyone, the adults came away victorious in the unofficial battle of best meal as they had, not only ham, but also freshly cooked bacon on their sandwiches. We also fired up a pot of Chicken Rice soup which helped keep everyone warm. “Clean Up on Aisle 4!

After cleaning up another successful meal, the Scouts realized it was time for the real fun…the Ax Yard! Caleb taught our new Scouts how to properly handle, wield, and use kives, hatchets, and axes, while also providing some kindling for our next planned fire that evening. Meanwhile, Aidan taught some of our not-youngest Scouts some pioneering skills as they had to build something “useful.” Only a short time later, a semi-useful bench was born! All the learning required another break to the GaGa Ball pit – where some Scouts from another Troop joined our boys in another rousing game (or 5, or 15). Eventually, the adults broke up the fun for some more organized learning and our new Scouts utilized the on-site flagpole to learn how to properly raise, lower, fold, and carry an American flag.

After that…it was time for more……, of course!

The Scouts continued to impress the adults as they decided they setup their cooking stations but realized they MUST play more GaGa Ball before they worked up the proper appetite for dinner. The adults worked on firing up a slew of Dutch ovens and began the Chicken and Dumplings and Apple Cobbler to be had for dessert. A big thanks to Mr. Ross for mostly cooking the meal and for Mrs. Ross for prepping the chicken – so much easier to just dump in the pre-cut chicken! A lesson learned: decade old Kroger brand charcoal briquets don’t always work as you’d expect. After busting out the “newer” charcoal, we finally got our food cooking, but not before the boys returned, famished, and quickly made and consumed their “Walking Tacos” and Fettucine Alfredo. Again, a most impressive effort by our Scouts!

Of course the evening was not without entertainment as yours truly decided to show the boys firsthand what “duck and roll” looks like when I tried to lean one foot on the fire grate and quickly realized that it was NOT attached to the concrete slab and rolled away from the fire pit and only barely missed ruining the Dutch ovens that contained dessert. Fun for all!

Once the adults got to enjoy their meal, we all then watched and waited as the adults Apple Cobbler, along with one patrols inventive idea for Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (technically for Cracker Barrel that night) finished cooking. We devoured our desserts and fortunately for the Scouts, Mr. Ross had planned an extra oven of apple cobbler that the boys devoured in about 36 seconds flat.

The weather stayed nice and clear and the stars came out as the sun set, providing for an amazing evening. Oh yeah, we also had a large herd of deer meander through the campsite, paying us no attention. To coexist in such a beautiful location was so peaceful.

After our bellies were full from the evenings meals, we started a fire (much easier to do on a bed of coals) and all sat around the campfire to stay warm, and allow the other patrol to consume their Cracker Barrel, the old classic, Smore’s. As we approached the quiet hour, our well worn Scouts suddenly felt the tiredness overcome them and all retreated to their tents where they were decidedly quicker to fall asleep than the prior night.

We arose Sunday to another bluebird morning – the clear skies allowed for the temps to drop once again, this time to 23 degrees. That’s another 9 frost points and 20 total for the weekend! The “goal” is to get 100 frost points in a winter season – and while we of course won’t do that this year, it’s pretty amazing that we got 1/5th of the way there in one weekend – on some Scouts first ever campout no less! While we arose earlier (7:00am today), Scouts were a bit more lackadaisical in their motivation to get breakfast and break camp. We took our sweet time, knowing that a conservation project (usually standard for our Tenderfoot campouts) was not in the books due to the already clean and still somewhat snow-covered Camp Patiya. We will plan that plus the required 5-mile hike another time soon.

We finally loaded up the trailer and cars and performed our trash sweep of the campsite around 10:15am. We did our Roses and Thorns before we loaded up the cars (after a quick group photo) and got on the road just after 10:30am, arriving back to the church right around 11:45am.

The adults were so impressed with the Scouts on this trip. The food planned and prepared was the best we’ve seen in years, and their ability to forge ahead in spite of the elements convinced us that we have the best of the best. We look forward to everything you all will achieve in Scouts! Well done!

The attendees:

Aidan S. (Trip SPL)
Caleb N.
Evan S.
Nash W.
Alexander R.
Liam H.
Cooper P.
Bjorn B.
Ben T.
Dalton M.
Lex S.

and special thanks to Jacob B. for coming up on Saturday to help teach our younger Scouts!

And as always, a big shout out and thank you to our Adult Leaders:
Mr. Bielkiewicz (Trip SMiC)
Mr. Borstad
Mr. Ross
Mr. Prebynski
Mr. Smith
Mr. Thompson

Initial photos are located at and if you need the password, email .

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